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WOODEN SHJIPS

Wooden Shjips

Live In San Francisco 2018

    Now entering their 13th year of drone and dirge drug-boogie, the Wooden Shjips, one of the linchpins of the neo-psychedelic movement of the new millennium, continue to expand on their concept of the eternal and infinite riff, ever higher and outward, year after year. Their first official live album, Shjips In The Night: Live In San Francisco, June 8, 2018 is as much a summation of their journey so far as it is an ultra-saturated, full color snap-shot of their peak live powers at present. At once cosmic and heavy, dream-like and searing in equal measures (and often all at once), this is the capture of a single live performance, multi-tracked at Slim’s in San Francisco by Eric Bauer and Damien Rasmussen and in a unique creative twist, was mixed by the band’s friends and colleagues in underground psych rock, Heron Oblivion, who hand out the Nitrous balloons and bring their own subtle (and not so subtle) enhancement of the show’s dark but kaleidoscopic color palette to the Shjips’ universe through performance mixing and post-production effects worm-holes, all the while keeping the Shjips’ long time band chemistry and natural sonic power at the forefront of the listener’s experience. Shjips In The Night is a career-spanning set that includes performances of songs from their first EP to their latest V out last year on Thrill Jockey.

    On their highly anticipated fifth album Wooden Shjips augment their already rich sound with laid back, classic summer songs. 

    Wooden Shjips, long-time leaders of the contemporary psychedelic movement, expand their sound with V. On their fifth album the quartet of Ripley Johnson (Moon Duo), Omar Ahsanuddin, Dusty Jermier, and Nash Whalen augment their already rich sound with laid back, classic summer songs. Inspired by the tumult of the modern world, and the desire to offer a contrasting vision of peace, the band has created a record that filters their trademark hypnotic grooves through an optimistic lens, resulting in music that is bright and vital.

    Each song shimmers with a distinctly Wooden Shjips sound, a relaxed summer vibe. This was a conscious choice, an atmospheric goal that influenced nearly every detail: the tones, the delay types and reverbs used, as well as the synthesizer elements that color the songs. The band’s members collectively share a love of classic rock from the Velvet Underground to Neil Young, as well as more overt love of the San Francisco scene of the 60’s. This commonality in their formative musical years binds them even as they live in different cities. Wooden Shjips has with V. created the most concise, laid back songs of their career. Their music is a balm of sorts, a respite from the insanity that, through its regenerative abilities, empowers continued, calm resistance. A reminder of the simple power of peace and beauty, V. is brimming with optimism and a peaceful energy, aptly timed for release at the height of spring.

    STAFF COMMENTS

    Barry says: Brimming with feel-good sunny vibes, Wooden Shjips once again confound our expectations with a superb, nuanced ride through classic psychedelia, roaring riffage and sun-soaked pop.

    FORMAT INFORMATION

    CD Info: CD version in four panel mini-LP style gatefold package.

    Wooden Shjips’ rise to prominence from the psychedelic underground to the rock and roll overground has been a steady sojourn. With each consecutive release, the band has found new ways of transforming heady psychedelic rock into minimalist masterpieces, bridging the gap between the woozy freeness of Les Rallizes Denudes and Crazy Horse and the tightly wound simplicity of Suicide and the Velvet Underground. Back To Land, the quartet’s follow-up to West, is the first Wooden Shjips record to be conceived outside of San Francisco. Ripley Johnson and Omar Ahsanuddin moved to Oregon, where the lush climates became a major influence on the songwriting. The band’s scope expanded to include more earthy, grounded tones, such as the acoustic guitar, without abandoning their modernist psych core.

    There is an increased brightness to many of the songs on Back To Land, an easiness with which the band has flirted with in the past but never fully realized until now. The nervy urgency of West has evolved into an assured confidence, from the alliterative, interlocking guitar and organ groove of “Ruins” to the languidly compelling guitar solos of “Servants.” The addition of the acoustic guitar to the band’s textural palate is coupled here with some of the most melodically direct songs the band has written.

    Still, there are still plenty of signature Shjips songs, with distorted riffs, modal keys, and a steady, crisp drum sound unfolding intensely while the elongated melodic guitar lines drift in and out of the foreground. On Back to Land this energy is captured in clear detail, designed as an immersive experience rather than a passive blasting. Back To Land was laid to tape at Jackpot Recording Studios in Portland by Kendra Lynn and mixed by Larry Crane. It was recorded over an 11-day session, resulting in some of the most detailed and spacious recordings of their career.

    Back To Land is a breakthrough record for the Wooden Shjips: nuanced, varied and utterly addictive.

    STAFF COMMENTS

    Andy says: The Shjips sail on, doing the same mega thing, but better!

    Wooden Shjips, as it is today, started in 2006. The band self released a 10” and 7” that year and started playing shows shortly thereafter. Prior to 2006, Wooden Shjips was an experiment in primitive and minimalist rock. After it imploded, Ripley Johnson, guitar and vocals, assembled the current lineup of Dusty Jermier on bass, Nash Whalen on organ, and Omar Ahsanuddin on drums. 'West' marks the first time the band recorded in a proper studio, as well as the first time with an engineer (Phil Manley). All previous recordings, either self-released, for Holy Mountain, or Mexican Summer were done more piecemeal in the band’s rehearsal studio. 'West' was recorded and mixed in six days at Lucky Cat Studios in San Francisco. It was mastered by Sonic Boom at Blanker Unisinn, Brooklyn, with additional mastering by Heba Kadry at the Lodge in New York.

    The over riding theme for the album (as indicated by the title) is the American West, and all of the mythology, romanticism, and idealism that it embodies. The band members grew up on the East Coast, so for a long time the history and literature of the West was an abstraction and a fascination for them. Part of the allure of the West, which is part of the myth, is the concept of Manifest Destiny, the vastness, and the possibilities for reinvention, which is not to say that is what each song is specifically about, but it was very much an undercurrent during the songwriting of the album. The artwork also touches on the same theme by using an iconic structure that is both a gateway in a literal and metaphorical sense.

    It is easy to see why these would appeal to Wooden Shjips, as their music lends itself to exploration. It is both transformative and transporting, the sum being far greater than it’s parts. The steady driving rhythms are the elliptical motion machine driven by the often thick and distorted guitar lines, melodic and boundless. Where they may lead cannot be anticipated but following them is exhilarating. It is all about getting there, the destination, while the experience of getting there is an adventure. It is the guitar lines that guide both the listener and the band on the literal and metaphorical journey into the vastness. The ghostly vocals, obscured by dense layers of instruments surrounding them, are alluring with their airy mystery. This elusive quality further draws the listener in, while they attempt to grasp at their meaning. While indebted to both the psych music of the ‘60s and mid-‘70s, electric Neil Young, and even the induced travels of Spacemen 3, the Wooden Shjips’ music is modern and in every way their own. 'West' is an epic journey to the edge and beyond.

    Strap in for travels beyond the galaxy, to tranced-out cosmic bliss! Sick Thirst presents "Vol 2", the second compilation of hard-to-find Wooden Shjips tracks. "Vol 2" digs deep to collect the band's Sub Pop and Mexican Summer singles, two self-released European tour singles, and a track from Yeti magazine, for nearly 44 minutes of fuzzed-out psych jams. Not just for completists, "Vol 2" contains the essential live standards "Loose Lips", "Death's Not Your Friend (live)", and "I Hear the Vibrations (the E-Z Version)", plus savage covers of Neil Young's "Vampire Blues" and Serge Gainsbourg's "Contact".

    Wooden Shjips is a trance-rock quartet from San Francisco, consisting of Omar Ahsanuddin (drums), Dusty Jermier (bass), Nash Whalen (organ), and Ripley Johnson (guitar and vocals). Their sound, as I'm sure you all know now, has hints of krautrock, the trance-inducing organ haze of Suicide, Velvets-style dance-drone, classic desert-fried garage psych and the mysterious, obscure Japanese lysergic-rock band Les Rallizes Denudes, all mixed into one explosive whole.

    FORMAT INFORMATION

    Coloured LP Info: Limited white vinyl edition.

    A rock band for the rave generation? Or a rave band for modern day rockers? "Dos" single-handedly flew across genres and took us all into the heady world of psychedelia, San Francisco and guitars. Melodies and hooks so beautifully transcendental that they cannot be ignored, whatever musical camp you occupy. Ripley Johnson's epic riffs cascade with elegance over drummer, Omar Ahsanuddin's rabid, ferocious yet mechanical clattering; organ and bass (Nash Whalen / Dusty Jermier) rumble and stir the thick psych stew while vocals rise and fall like whispering angels. While "Dos" is accessible and welcoming, it's cross-over potential should not cloud it's creditability as one fuzz heavy, psychedelic rock masterpiece and while it's production and style draw from the past, it's energy, charisma and euphoria lift it well beyond any of it's contemporaries in 2009. A God-like album for one and all.

    FORMAT INFORMATION

    LP includes MP3 Download Code.

    This release brings together a collection of long deleted vinyl only sides from San Francisco's Wooden Shjips. The Wooden Shjips' earliest material was released on vinyl, pressed in small quantities that were either free or hard to come by and are now hopelessly out of print. So, The Shjips do the honourable thing and let everyone get their mits on 'the early stuff', and limited singles, for those of you who missed the original vinyl (and that isn't surprising if you did). We are very happy to be able to provide you with the rush of "Shrinking Moon for You", 8 plus minutes of groovy guitar head melt. Followed up by "Death's Not Your Friend" which is a bit looser round the edges, a touch of strung out, fractured, acid soaked psyche. "Space Clothes" is third up, laying down some very oddball spoken word (backwards) over oscillating guitar feedback and ambient weirdness. Onto "Clouds Over Earthquake" the total classic sludge-fest from the 'Dance California 7"'. And after that is what is no doubt their best single, the aforementioned "Dance California" with guitars tuned up and effected to sound like bloody bagpipes, this wall of sonic mind f*ck is relentless in groove and attack. Last up is "Sol 07" which was a limited Holy Mountain release split over two sides, here laid out in all it's wasted funky grooviness, to a nice 11 and a half minutes. Godlike.

    San Francisco four piece Wooden Shjips first came to our attention in February this year when we heard the blistering sonic guitar attack that is "Dance California", and we have been waiting on the album ever since. Mixing a loose, funky drum beat, groovy bass-lines, droning organ, fuzz guitar and incomprehensible lyrics isn't rocket science and so many do it that it is easy to get lost in the also-rans. Fortunately Wooden Shjips tower above the best of the rest with their swirling maelstrom of psychedelic space rock. Without doubt slaves to the groove, the Shjips quite simply lock your body into a heavy trance like strut, whilst lifting the lid on your head and teleporting your brain to the outer reaches of the universe.


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